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South Phoenix in a David against Goliath struggle for survival


The Arizona Supreme Court gave the green light to print Proposition 105 and send it out to voters. The Special Elections initiative will leave it up to the voters on August 27, to make the decision as to whether they want to keep the South Phoenix Neighborhoods with its Panaderias, Restaurants, Tire Shops, Food City, Rancho Market and low income housing, or if they want to modernize city-wide at the expense of losing existing businesses and community identity.

Building a Better Phoenix, the organization that was formed to take the initiative to the ballot, collected more than 40,000 signatures and took away the final decision making power from the Phoenix City Council. “It will not be up to the politicians. It will be up to the voters,” stated Larry Cohen, a business owner that will likely lose his business due to the light rail expansion into South Central Avenue.

Salvador Reza

Salvador Reza

Now the Phoenix City Council, the developers, and the contractors that stand to lose a couple of billion dollars are shaking in their boots. It was a done deal. The little guy could not possibly throw a wrench to derail the carefully crafted plans. The fast tracking of a project due until 2032 was done at a time that Light Rail is losing ridership and only 1 percent of the population uses it. Residents in South Phoenix wonder, “Why the rush?”

Now the barrage of attacks against the small group of small businesses that decided to stand up to big government will commence. The City Council, including newly elected members that formerly opposed the light rail, will surely rally for developers and big money.

An Op Ed piece in the Arizona Republic online fired the first salvo. Quoting a statement from a mentally troubled individual, “God Killed” former Congressman Ed Pastor, painting with a wide brush everyone opposing light rail, as supportive of the deplorable act. It is the same tactic utilized against migrants when one of them commits a crime: the entire group is attacked as criminals, even though the majority are hardworking family members trying to make a living for their families.

The people opposing the light rail in South Phoenix are not doing it for political reasons, they are doing it because they are fighting for their survival and because gentrification of South Phoenix might benefit the contractors and the developers, but it will spell the end of a vibrant community that has developed along South Central Ave.

“The City of Phoenix thought we were kidding when we chanted “Four lanes or no train.”

“We might be taken out by big government but we will not go down without a fight,” said Susan Gudino, a resident of South Phoenix. Now the voters will decide, Yes, on Proposition 105, will save the community in South Phoenix and will stop light rail expansion.  

The City of Phoenix plans to waste $2 billion of tax payer money on five miles for a train to nowhere. It will also use eminent domain on any property owner that refuses to go along with the destruction of their business. Renters will be even worse off. The most they will get is minimal relocation money to move. The old saying, “Nobody can fight city hall,” does not apply to members of “Building a Better Phoenix.”  We have decided to fight City Hall on August 27. Vote Yes on Proposition 105 and deliver a knockout blow to government waste and insensitivity to the little guy.

Salvador Reza is a Phoenix resident and activist. 


  1. Sal, ordinarily I agree with you 100%; however, on this I strongly disagree.

    Prop 105 kills ALL light rail funding, not just the planned south leg. I completely understand your feelings about the south leg, and I don’t think I actually have the ability to have an opinion on that specific part. However, your Prop kills everyone ELSE’S opportunity to decide for THEIR neighborhood.

    You don’t have to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Had your Prop just covered the south leg, I would have happily endorsed it and voted in favor of it. However, just as you complain the choice was taken away from you, so will the choice now be taken BY you from other neighborhoods if your Prop passes.

    Vote NO on Prop 105. Do not take away EVERYONE’S choice because of one area’s complaint.

  2. If City Council had listened to South Phoenix Business owners and permitted four lanes this vote would not be an issue.

  3. Michael D Schelter RN

    I would not want to hurt any of the businesses or folks of South Phoenix that would be effected by the light rail extension. It can be dumped, just as they stop’d it to P V Mall + better used as funds for road repair and improvements to all existing transportation modes.
    DON”T screw up the well utilized light rail or future train possibilities. All of us in Phoenix
    need to look at the next 10 to 30 plus years + the unstopable growth of this city. We now need as many
    forms of alternative transportation to be developed for future use. The aging population, students, the
    disabled + countless others are dependent upon all the transportation modes. If South Phoenix was
    a bad choice, then let it go, but DON’T mess it up for everyone else.
    So mauy of us who moved here from Chicago, New York City, etc. know moving people safely + efficiently
    is necessity for the growth of a city. Yes Phoenix of the 1950’s – almost now is long gone, but we can still
    try to put some control on auto traffic gridlock.
    Vote NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO on these poorly designed mandates.

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